- Ringing in ears is typically tinnitus, which causes you to hear buzzing sounds that aren’t there.
- It can be caused by taking certain medications, a blockage in your ear, or a sinus infection.
- But it can also be a sign of a serious issue like hearing loss or a traumatic brain injury.
If you hear ringing in your ears, chances are that it’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is when you perceive a sound, typically a ringing or buzzing, in your ears when there’s no source for the sound nearby. You basically hear sounds that aren’t actually there.
Sometimes tinnitus is a temporary symptom from an obstruction in your ear and will go away after you remove the obstruction. But, in other cases, tinnitus can be chronic, and there’s no way to treat it.
While there are hundreds of causes of tinnitus, here are six of the most common and whether they’re treatable, or not.
1. Obstruction in ear
You may experience tinnitus if your ear canal becomes blocked with earwax, dirt, or other material.
A blockage can cause pressure to build up in the inner part of the ear. It could also touch your sensitive eardrum — either of which can cause ringing in your ears.
Removing the blockage will often stop any ringing. But sometimes, severe blockages can cause permanent damage leading to chronic tinnitus.
2. Hearing loss
You have sensitive hair cells in your ear that send electrical signals to your brain which you interpret as sound.
These hair cells can break when you expose yourself to loud noises, Or they can get damaged over time, as a result of aging.
“Since there is not a clear auditory connection to the brain, the brain will produce phantom signals to make up for missing input,” says Shelley Borgia, AudD, Chief Medical Correspondent at Lipo-Flavonoid.
If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, contact your doctor who can refer you to an audiologist to evaluate your condition and determine treatment.
3. Ear and sinus infections
Many people will experience tinnitus when they have an ear infection, sinus infection, or cold.
These infections can cause sinus fluid to build up in the ear, triggering a change in pressure that causes tinnitus.
“Ear infections often cause the area behind the eardrum to swell or build up fluid, which causes a temporary hearing loss,” says Hadassah Kupfer, AuD, an audiologist and adjunct faculty at the City University of New York’s Audiology Graduate Program. “This typically resolves after the infection goes away.”